Contra Costa County Supervisors Initiate Process Intended To Reduce Cost of Programs for People With Developmental Disabilities
The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday sent a letter to the Department of Developmental Services regional centers program, giving 60 days' notice that the county will not renew its contract to provide services to people with developmental disabilities and their families, the Contra Costa Times reports. County supervisors on Tuesday began the "slow process" of transferring control of the programs to private providers as part of an effort to reduce costs for the programs that are funded by the county Health Services Department, according to the Times. The George Miller Centers in Richmond and Concord, which provide the services, receive about 66% of their funding through the state's Regional Center and the remainder from the county. County supervisors intend for another party to pay the county's share and continue to operate the programs in existing buildings; more than 400 people currently use the services. The county faces a $25 million budget deficit for fiscal year 2004-2005, and the shift to private providers could save the county Health Services Department $1.6 million per year, in part by eliminating about 60 county jobs. The Times reports that to "soften the blow" of the change, the supervisors have created a transition committee composed of parents, health officials and Supervisors John Gioia of Richmond and Mark DeSaulnier of Concord to screen prospective providers and find ways to minimize the impact on families.
Jim Burton, executive director of the Regional Center of the East Bay, said that it will take some time to find a provider or providers to take over service delivery, adding, "There are very, very few programs of this size." In addition, Burton said that a new provider would face the low state funding the county dealt with and would have to replace the laid-off county employees. State law prohibits the regional centers from providing start-up funding, the Times reports. "We are not proposing to close the George Miller centers," county Public Health Director Wendel Brunner said, adding, "The intention is to transition the existing programs and clients to appropriate providers." County Health Services Director William Walker said, "The whole process could take months to complete." County Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg said, "We don't want to see anyone left behind. Continuing an adequate level of service is what's important" (Felsenfeld, Contra Costa Times, 5/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.